The head of the Consumer Federation of America slammed Fifth Third’s cryptic letter to customers disclosing a data breach that has exposed an undisclosed number of people to identity theft.
“Fifth Third is only telling half the story – it’s vague and deceptive to customers because it’s not just their Fifth Third accounts that will be impacted,” said Jack Gillis, executive director of the Washington, DC-based nonprofit consumer advocate.
Fifth Third officials say they can’t discuss the matter extensively because of an ongoing investigation by unnamed “authorities” and “law enforcement.”
Gillis criticized text from a letter to select consumers that reassured them the bank had “not detected any fraudulent activity on your accounts.” He noted crooks could use the affected data outside the existing bank accounts.
Fifth Third said compromised information included: name, Social Security number, driver’s license information, mother’s maiden name, address, phone number, date of birth and account numbers.
Gillis said Fifth Third’s limited commentary about the breach indicates consumer information was sold to other crooks on the “dark web,” the digital marketplace for illicitly obtained personal data.
The detailed information that was stolen from Fifth Third could be used to set up credit accounts outside the Cincinnati-based bank and fraudulent charges wouldn’t be caught until they were reported to credit reporting agencies.
“They didn’t do it for fun,” Gillis said about the fired bank employees. He suggested affected customers immediately sign up for the bank’s identity alert protection, but also contact one of the major credit reporting agencies to ask about basic fraud protection services.
Fifth Third spokeswoman Laura Trujillo refused to answer further questions about the breach from The Enquirer, regarding the origin or the scope of the unauthorized activity.
Fifth Third Bank wouldn’t say how many customers are affected or where they are.
Based in Cincinnati, Fifth Third is the nation’s 15th-largest bank in America, according to the Federal Reserve. The company has nearly 1,150 branches in 10 states.
The bank wouldn’t say how they discovered the irregularities or what authorities were investigating.
They did not provide any status on the investigation.
Officials with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Fifth Third’s primary regulator, declined to discuss the breach or whether they are one of the “authorities” investigating.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which also oversees consumer protection has logged 44 complaints against Fifth Third regarding identity theft as well as several other banks. Capital One, Citi Bank and Chase Bank were the top three banks with the most complaints with more than 900 apiece.
Fifth Third asks customers concerned about fraud to call their customer service number at 800-972-3030.
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